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Ontario Arts Council

Guide to OAC Project Programs

Ontario Arts Council (OAC) project grant programs provide one-time grants for specific projects. Project grants are not meant to cover operating or ongoing expenses.

This guide provides essential information about OAC’s project grants, including eligibility, assessment process and policies. Be sure to review it prior to each application as information and policies are updated regularly and subject to change.

Details on specific project grant programs, including eligibility, are available on the grant program pages.

The guide includes the following:

For information in French or English contact:

Maya Bedward
Information Services Coordinator
Toll-free in Ontario 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7429
or OAC program administrator. Please refer to OAC staff list for contact information.
For assistance with technical issues you may encounter while using OAC’s online granting system (Nova), contact technical support:  
The OAC is committed to providing services in French according to the requirements of the French Language Services Act.

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Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants include Ontario-based:
  • individual professional artists and/or arts professionals
  • ad hoc groups/collectives
  • organizations
All applicants must have a permanent physical address in Ontario.

In some project programs, municipalities, colleges/universities, school boards, First Nation and schools administered by a First Nation or Indigenous Education Authority are eligible.

Individuals must:
  • be a professional artist/arts professional
The OAC defines a professional artist/arts professional as someone who has developed skills through training or practice, is recognized by artists working in the same artistic tradition, has a history of public presentation or publication, seeks payment for her or his work and actively practises his or her art. Short breaks in artistic work history are acceptable.
  • be a Canadian citizen or a Permanent Resident of Canada, or have an application pending for Permanent Resident status and, if requested, be able to provide documentation to verify this.
  • be a resident of Ontario who has lived in Ontario for a minimum of one year prior to making a grant application, and
  • live in Ontario no less than eight months a year.
IMPORTANT: Absences from Ontario
In some circumstances, you may be eligible to apply to OAC while you are temporarily absent from Ontario (e.g. for employment or artistic opportunity). Your absence must be no more than one year and not recurring. You must maintain your permanent physical address in Ontario, and you cannot apply for support from the jurisdiction of your temporary residence. Ad hoc groups/collectives:
  • must  have 50% of its members residing in Ontario;
  • must be comprised of at least two members who are Ontario-based professional artists, artistic leaders or arts professionals, and who will be responsible for the administration of the grant on behalf of the ad hoc group/collective;
  • cannot be a corporation, and
  • can deposit a grant cheque in the name of the ad hoc group/collective.
Note: Ad hoc groups/collectives come together for a one-time project (ad hoc group) or have ongoing activity (collective).
Organizations must:
  • be incorporated in Ontario or federally;
  • have a head office in Ontario;
  • be governed by a volunteer board of directors or an advisory board;
  • have a designated staff member responsible for the applicant’s arts programming, and
  • present/produce/publish professional Ontario artists, arts professionals and/or arts groups/ collectives and/or arts organizations.
The OAC supports the following types of organizations:
  • Incorporated not-for-profit organizations
  • Incorporated for-profit organizations (book and magazine publishers only)
Note: The publishers must be Canadian-owned and eligible for funding in OAC’s publishing programs.
  • Colleges/universities
Note: The college/university must be registered through the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
  • Municipalities
  • School boards
  • First Nations
  • Schools administered by a First Nation or an Indigenous administered authority
The OAC may request documentation to confirm an applicant's eligibility at any time. If they are unable to provide documentation, their application will be withdrawn or any funds granted must be repaid.


  • You are not eligible to apply to any OAC project program if you have an overdue or unapproved final report in any OAC grant program. If you are unsure of the due date or status of any final report(s), please contact OAC. 
  • If you have an overdue report for a previous grant at an application deadline, your application is ineligible and will be withdrawn.
  • You may only apply for one grant in any program per deadline.
  • Applicants that do not receive OAC operating funding are eligible to receive up to three project grants in a calendar year, provided each grant is for a different activity.
    • This three-grant limit per year is based on the date of the application deadline, not on the date the grant payment is received.
    • If you submit three project program applications during the year, you cannot submit a fourth until you have received notification that one of your applications has not been successful.
    • If you have already received one project grant in a year, you may apply for only two other project grants at a time; if you have already received two project grants in a given year, you may apply for only one other project grant at a time.
    • Grants received in third-party recommender programs are exceptions and do not count toward the three-grant limit. The recommender programs are: Exhibition Assistance, Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators (formerly Theatre Creators’ Reserve), Recommender Grants for Writers (formerly Writers’ Reserve) and Indigenous Visual Artists Materials (formerly Aboriginal Artists Materials and Supplies Assistance).
  • Operating grant recipients may receive a maximum of two project grants in a year. Check program-specific guidelines for more information.
  • The Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment in Ontario is an exception – grants given under this fund do not count as OAC grants.

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Application Deadlines

All project applications will be accepted until 1 p.m. ET on the deadline date.
  • The OAC does not accept requests for an extension to submit an application to any project program. You will be unable to submit your application through OAC’s Nova online application system (Nova) after 1 p.m., or revise or add additional materials after you submit your application.
  • On a deadline date, applicants already in the queue for technical assistance prior to 1 p.m. ET will be allowed to submit their application once their technical question has been resolved.  Applicants must submit their application immediately on the resolution of the technical issue or the application will not be accepted through Nova.  

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Nova Online Application System

To provide better service to OAC applicants, as of 2017, all project programs’ applications including your artistic examples, e.g. video or audio examples, are submitted online through Nova.

Nova is browser-based. You can access it from anywhere. There are instructions available on OAC’s website to walk you through the Nova system, from setting up your ‘Profile’ through to submitting an application.

You can begin an application two months before a project program deadline. Once the project program is open in Nova, our bilingual technical support staff will be ready to help with any technical issues.

Paper applications will no longer be accepted. . However, OAC is committed to having an accessible application process, so certain accommodations will be made. These will be outlined in our new Accommodation Policy which will be released early in 2017.

Project Applications

Online applications for project programs are designed with several sections, e.g. Artistic Merit, Impact and Viability, to assist assessors in their evaluation of the applications. Project program  applications include questions common to all programs. Each application question will include writing tips specific to each program to assist you to answer questions or submit information on the application. In addition, many project programs require specific information about your project, e.g. a work plan, a list of persons involved in your project and a budget.

Remember, the assessors only know what you tell them. You cannot assume that they will know your work, your community or your cultural context, so be sure in answering the questions that you let them have all the information they will need to understand and assess your project.


Support for Deaf Persons or Persons with Disabilities

Application Accessibility Support Funding

Applicants who are Deaf or have a disability and need support to complete their grant applications can apply for funds to cover the costs of assistance from service providers. Up to $500 is available per eligible applicant in a year. You should request this funding at least six weeks before the project program deadline.

Please be aware that OAC may need advance notice to provide certain alternative formats and additional support in order for applicants to submit their application at the program deadline date.

For additional information, please contact the Information Services Coordinator soon as possible to discuss options.


Supporting Accessibility Costs for Successful Applications

Deaf artists and artists with disabilities who apply for a project grant may also include the cost of any anticipated accessibility expenses during the duration of the project.

This fund is open to applicants who identify as Deaf or as having a disability, ad hoc groups/collectives with one or more members who are Deaf or who have a disability, and incorporated organizations that have a mandate to serve Deaf artists and artists with disabilities and are disability-led (e.g. board/staff who are Deaf or identify as having a disability).
  • Eligible expenses may occur during the period of project creation, development, production, presentation and/or engagement.
  • Eligible expenses include costs for making a project accessible to audiences, participants or learners, but do not include capital costs or accessibility supports needed for day-to-day living.
  • Requests for these funds can be made after the point of application. Please contact the program officer who administers the program if you have any questions.
The OAC identifies Deaf artists as distinct from artists with disabilities based on the Canadian Hearing Society’s definition of “Culturally Deaf,” a term that refers to individuals who identify with and participate in the language, culture, and community of Deaf people.

The OAC identifies artists with disabilities as people who have physical, mental or learning conditions with long-term, temporary or varying effects that may be apparent or not.

For information about OAC’s Accessibility Standards for Service to the Public Policy click here.

Assessment and Decision Making Process

The OAC uses a peer assessment process to make decisions and operates at “arm’s length” from the Government of Ontario. All applications are assessed by professional artists and other arts professionals.  The membership of an assessment panel reflects the diversity of the applicants applying for grants, as well as OAC’s priority groups.

There are three peer assessment models used by OAC.
  • Juries are composed of assessors who are professional artists and other professionals in the field.  Juries assess grant applications in project programs and determine which applicants should receive grants and, in programs that do not have pre-determined grant levels, decide on the amount of each grant who decide who is awarded grants in some programs.
  • Advisory panels are composed of assessors who are professional artists and other professionals in the field Advisory panels assess grant applications in operating grant programs and some project programs. Advisory panels provide advice and help set priorities for funding – they do not make final decisions on grant amounts. Officers make final grant recommendations to the Director & CEO or to the board of OAC, based on advisors’ assessment, OAC’s strategic plan priorities and policies, the program budget, and the number of applications to the program.
  • Third-party recommenders are organizations chosen from the artistic community to make recommendations for funding on OAC’s behalf in some of programs.
In programs outside the Francophone Arts Sector, assessment panels are held in English. If there are French-language applications in those competitions, at least one assessor is francophone. The OAC provides translation services for all French-language applications submitted to non-Francophone programs. If a competition receives enough French-language applications, a separate meeting with francophone assessors is convened.

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Application assessment

OAC’s project programs are assessed on either artistic merit, or artistic merit/merit, impact and viability. The assessment is informed by answers to the questions in each section of the application, artistic examples, support documents and a project budget.

For programs that include artistic examples, the examples are an important part in the assessment of the artistic merit of the project. For programs that include budgets, the budget is an important part in the assessment of the viability of the project.

Assessors will receive your application as submitted on the deadline date, including artistic examples and support documents.

Assessors are provided the Guide to OAC Project Programs Assessment Qualifiers to assist their evaluation of the application. For more information, see Guide to OAC Assessment to assist their evaluation of the application.


Finding out about a grant decision

The OAC will inform you by e-mail whether or not you have received a grant. Notification will be available once decisions are made, approximately four months after the deadline.

We do not give grant results by telephone or email. Please do not call or email OAC for this information.

If you get a grant

If you receive a grant you must acknowledge OAC’s support by placing the OAC logo on all printed promotional material and house programs.

At the completion of your project, you must submit a Final Report summarizing the activities for your project and any changes that took place.

If you do not submit a final report, OAC may require you to repay the grant. You, your ad hoc group/collective or organization will be ineligible to submit future applications to any OAC program or receive further grant payments from OAC until the grant is repaid or an acceptable report is submitted.

Funded projects must be completed no more than two years after you receive a grant. (see specific program details)

Some grants are awarded with conditions. The grant notification will describe conditions that may apply to your grant.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out if I’m eligible for a grant?
The program-specific web pages contain eligibility requirements. Call or email one of the program contacts.

Can I talk to someone before I fill out my application?
Yes. Contact the Program Administrator. You will find contact details on each project-specific web page.

Do you assist first-time applicants?
If you are applying for the first time to OAC, or you want to check your eligibility, or you want to review the application process, please contact OAC. Because we receive so many inquiries in the weeks before an application deadline, please contact OAC with your queries as far in advance as possible.

Where can I get an application? Can I get one online?
Applications are available and submitted through Nova, our online application system. Project programs are open two months in advance of the deadline. The project program’s application questions and requirements are available on each program specific web page.

Can we receive the program guidelines and form by fax or email?
All program-specific information about a project program is available on the program’s web page. The OAC does not produce copies of the guidelines as of 2017.

Can more than one person have access to an on-line application?
No. Only one person can work on an application at a time. If more than one person is responsible for the grant writing or preparation on an application, your must log out and then back in, in order for another person to have access to your application.

Can I apply for a grant at any time?
No. There are specific deadline dates for applications for each project program. You will find deadlines listed on the program web pages. You may also call or email to have a deadline calendar mailed to you.

Can I submit my application after the 1 p.m. on the program’s deadline date?
No. Late applications cannot be submitted through Nova, OAC’s online granting system, after 1 p.m. ET.

Can we send our application form by mail, fax or email?
No. Applications must be submitted through Nova, the online granting system, unless you have been approved to submit in an alternate format.  What if I miss the application deadline date?
You will not be able to submit an application after a deadline has closed.

Can we send extra documents to OAC after the deadline?
No. We do not accept supplementary material after the deadline unless requested by the officer.

How much money can I apply for? Will I receive what I ask for?
The OAC project programs offer varying levels of grants. See the individual program-specific web pages for details about grant levels. Due to the number of applications we receive and the limited funds that are available, grants awarded may be smaller than the amount requested.

Do I really need to submit artistic examples?
Only if artistic examples are a mandatory requirement in the project program. If you do not upload the mandatory artistic examples, e.g.  audio-visual materials or support documents, e.g. résumé, you will be unable submit your application through Nova, the online granting system.

What if my application is missing something?
Each project program indicates an application’s mandatory and optional answers to application questions and other elements of the application, and artistic examples and support documents.

You can not submit an application through Nova, our online granting system, without completing all mandatory requirements of an application. Before submitting your application, you will receive a validation status on your application of any/all missing materials, information and answers to application questions.

How long do I have to wait for a decision on my application? Do I hear from you if I don’t receive a grant?
You will be notified approximately 4 months after the deadline, whether you receive a grant or not. Decisions will not be given by email or telephone. You will receive a message on your Nova ‘Profile’ of a status change that will notify you of the results of the competition.

If I get a grant, do I have any responsibilities to you in return?
Yes. You are required to do several things.
  1. You must submit a final report to OAC by the date indicated in your grant notification. If you do not submit in a satisfactory final report by this date, OAC will not accept or process any other grant application in your name and may require you to repay your grant.
  2. Grants must be used for the purposes for which they were given.
  3. If you need more time to complete the project, you can request an extension. The extension deadline can be no later than two years from the date you received notification of the grant results.
Can I find out why I was turned down?
Some project programs provide limited comments on your application. If I get turned down, when can I apply again?
Often, you can apply to the next deadline. But some project programs have differing rules about re-applying. Refer to the program-specific web page for specific rules.

If I get turned down, can I appeal?
No. Decisions are final and cannot be appealed. However, if there is evidence that due process was not followed in the decision-making procedures, OAC will investigate.

If I get a grant, do I have to pay taxes?
Individuals receiving OAC grants will be issued T4As. 

Can I apply for more than one grant at a time?
You may not apply to more than one OAC project program for the same activity unless you have received notification that your first application was unsuccessful. However, you may apply to different programs for different activities at the same time.